Wednesday, December 22, 2004

'Tis the Season to Be... AWOL XVIII

Tomorrow, I head home for the holidays. That means that Media Diet may be quiet until I get back to Brooklyn. That doesn't mean that Media Diet is dead (long live Media Diet!). It just means that it's resting. Worst case scenario: Media Diet will be back up and running Jan. 4 or so.

May you and yours have the happiest of holidays.

Institutional Corrections

From Harper's, January 2005, p. 7:

"The location of Nevsky Prospekt was misidentified in the December 2004 issue ["The Anti-Profiler," Reviews]. It is in St. Petersburg, not Moscow. We regret the error.

It is not in Petrograd or Leningrad, though.

From Utne, January-February 2005, p. 11:

In our 16th annual Utne Independent Press Awards nominations (Nov./Dec. 2004), we mistakenly referred to Cabinet magazine as "Cabinets" and Alternatives Journal simply as "Alternatives."

Singular? Plural? Who dare to says?

From U.S. News & World Report, Dec. 27, 2004, p. 6:

"Conquering Our Phobias," [December 6] included an incorrect area code for Virtually Better, a source for help. The correct number is (404) 634-3400.

Sufferers of telephonophobia, arithmophobia, and numerophobia are particularly encouraged to call.

The Free-Range Comic Book Project XLIII

This is an installment of Media Diet's Free-Range Comic Book Project:

Spectacular Spider-Man #226 (Marvel, July 1995). Writer: Tom DeFalco. Artists: Sal Buscema and Bill Sienkiewicz. Location: On a bench at the Nassau Avenue subway station.

For more information on this project, please refer to this Media Diet entry.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Book Blurbage

What in the world is Davy Rothbart, publisher of Found magazine doing contributing a jacket blurb to Carol Dunitz, Ph.D.'s book Louder Than Thunder: A Contemporary Business Parable?

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Magazine Me LV

I dare you to read this magazine while in public -- or on public transit. And while you're at it, check out this comic book.

[Thanks, David and Paul!]

Definition of Success

US News & World Reports reports on Jimmy Carter's recent book-signing tour of Sam's Clubs and Costco's, including the following quote:

"Anybody who buys my books is a good person."

Researchers have previously studied the characteristics that made Carter a leader. Me? Off to the bookshop!

Comics Go to College

Egon was on the ball with this back in September, but I just got my copy of the New School's Spring Bulletin, so it came as news to me: Ariel Schrag's teaching a course!

Graphic Novel Workshop NWRW3521
13 session(s). Thurs, 8:00-9:50 PM, beg. January 27. $510.00
This course leads students stage by stage through the process of creating a short graphic novel. The emphasis is not on drawing but on the narrative. The course begins with analysis/critique of narrative comics, and then leads students in individual projects through the cumulative stages of outline, rough sketches, final penciling, lettering, inking, and editing. Mainly the course focuses on the "rough sketch" stage of the graphic novel, in which we discuss narrative point-of-view options, depicting content through page layout, narrative pacing and the "grammar" of comics, composition of the page and within panels, incorporating background into narrative, and symbolic vocabulary. The effects of final drawing/inking style on narrative is discossed. Student work is critiqued in class, and there are individual meetings with the instructor. We study works by Art Spiegelman, Daniel Clowes, Renee French, Chris Ware, David B., Joe Matt, Joe Sacco, Adrian Tomine, Scott McCloud, Chester Brown, Herge, Julie Doucet, and R. Crumb.

The bulletin includes a detail from what appears to be a comic Schrag's created to help explain how she tells stories. Should be a cool class!

The Free-Range Comic Book Project XLII

This is an installment of Media Diet's Free-Range Comic Book Project:

Lady Demon #1 (Chaos!, March 2000). Writer: Len Kaminski. Artist: David Brewer. Location: On a bench at the Nassau Avenue subway station.

For more information on this project, please refer to this Media Diet entry.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Geek TV: On Earthsea

The last two nights, I've made a point to be home by 9 p.m. to watch the two-part Sci-Fi Channel Earthsea miniseries. While I enjoyed it, I kind of miss having friends around who also freak to the geek TV to talk about the program with -- and I felt a little let down at the end of last night's completion.

I mean, come on, the Nameless Ones were let loose on Earthsea five minutes before the program ended. That meant that the final solution to the age-old problem -- the entire quest -- was arrived at and realized in less than five minutes. Amulet (wham), key (bam), thank you, ma'am. A little too clean for my tastes. I may have even liked another two-hour segment in which some aftermath had to be managed.

That said, the predominant feeling I came away with is that I'm not so sure that the newfound mainstream appreciation for all things epic, wizards, and trolls is a positive for the fantasy genre -- in print or visual media. Why? Because when so widely disseminated and distributed, when so largely in the popular discourse, the very mechanics and methods of the genre become overly transparent and, well, trite.

Thanks to the Lord of the Rings, we've got hairy people wearing capes. There's a jocular, chubby comrade. Always a boat at some point. A ring, an amulet, or a key. The ancient, long-buried evil. The self-test. The horrid-voiced evil being who may or may not be related to the hero. And thanks to Harry Potter, we've now got the jealous rival. The esteemed magical university. The hoary, heroic wizard instructor (a tweak on Gandalf's hoary, heroic wizard mentor).

A challenge: Make an epic fantasy not involving hairy people, capes, chubbiness, boats, rings, amulets, keys, tombs, quests, jealousy, and magic camp. Can it be done? I think it can be.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Blogging About Blogging LXXVIII

I'm considering getting rid of the email-notification mailing list Media Diet currently offers. Policing the comment spam -- deleting the queued-up offender messages -- is overly taxing time-wise, and in these days of RSS and such, it seems there are better notification options. Barring any vociferous protest, I will stop using the mailing list in the next week-plus. Just a head's up.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Gone Are the Days of the Gentleman-Athlete

Phil Mushnick's Equal Time column in today's New York Post slams Sports Illustrated for its sometimes-jokey coverage of recent sporting escapades. Calling SI "once sports' most significantly right-headed publication" -- as opposed to what other magazine, perhaps? -- Mushnick mouths off about SI's snickering about the Monday Night Football/Nicolette Sheridan brouhaha, a photo shoot of an Olympic sprinter (earning a comparison to ESPN magazine's "gangsta style"), and a profile of a skateboarder.

"Has he ever hung out in front of a 7-Eleven, making life miserable for the storeowner?" Muchnick wonders. Huh. Sir, SI is a magazine published for sports fans. If you expect to revel in the era of the moustachioed pugilist, barehanded baseball, and the dandy horse, you were born in the wrong century. I'd argue that SI is higher brow than the average sports fan and athlete. And dismissing skateboarding: What's the old saying? "When golf is outlawed, only outlaws will have Big Berthas"? What do you think would happen if all the public basketball courts were closed? Tennis courts? Little League fields?

Thursday, December 02, 2004

The Free-Range Comic Book Project XLI

This is an installment of Media Diet's Free-Range Comic Book Project:

Wildstorm Halloween '97 #1 (Image, October 1997). Writers: Christopher Golden, Peter Gutierrez, and Tom Sniegoski. Artists: Ed Benes, Ryan Odagawa, and Chris Warner. Location: In the gate area of the Central Wisconsin Airport, Nov. 28.

Disavowed #3 (Homage/Wildstorm, May 2000). Writers: Brandon Choi and Mike Heisler. Artists: Tommy Lee Edwards and John Lucas. Location: On a bench at the Nassau Avenue subway station, Dec. 2.

For more information on this project, please refer to this Media Diet entry.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Border Patrol

A parody Web site developed by Toronto-based This Magazine encouraging disgruntled Democrats to move to Canada is being taken more seriously than its developers intended.

Marry an American encourages young Canucks to tie the knot with their southern neighbors in order to help them escape the Bush regime. Visitors to the site -- initially mostly Canadians before the actual election -- are encouraged to take a pledge, view profiles, and get hooked up. There's even a charming "Aboot" section.

Once the election was completed and Bush was reinstalled for four more years, more Americans began to swarm the site. One commented that they got the joke -- but wished it was real.

Making Book

Sports Illustrated is a consistently high-quality read, and I'm not even a real sports fan. And even though I'm sure its recently issued anniversary book is a worthy read, I am thrilled silly -- silly! -- about a different book scheduled for a May 2005 release.

Bill Scheft's The Best of the Show: A Classic Collection of Wit and Wisdom will collect 100 of his best columns from Sports Illustrated, indicating why the former David Letterman writer is one of the funniest people in sports -- and publishing. I can't wait. He's a major reason to read SI, and his book may be even better.

By Redesign

Starting with the January issue, Technology Review, "MIT's magazine of innovation," will undergo some major changes. Now that Jason Pontin sits at the top of the masthead, Tech Review's staff will reorganize the editorial content, introduce some bigger-name writers, and redesign the mag's look and feel. Some of the changes are already afoot. Long-running columnist Michael Schrage is out the door, as is Joe Chung. Gladly, Simson Garfinkel seems to be staying around. Looking forward to the next issue! I just renewed.

In related news: A hearty Boo! Hiss! Pfftlb! to Tech Review for their shoddily done Statement of Ownership, Management, and Circulation. "Printed" on page 10 of the December issue, it appears to be a bad scan -- the text is basically illegible, as are most of the important numbers. I can barely read the thing. Near as I can tell, the average press run pushes past 360,000 and the book sells maybe 49,000 on the newsstand. Come on, Tech Review, you can do better than this.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Regional Advantage

Oh, why didn't Time Out Chicago launch while I lived in that fine city? It's sure to give the Chicago Reader and New City a run for their money.

[Thanks, Noah!]

Launch Pad II

Doc Searls reports that the publisher of Linux Journal is preparing to publish a new magazine aimed at newcomers to Linux: TUX. Get it? Tux? Penguin suit? Oh, Tux is the name of the Linux penguin logo. Still, harf! Expect a starting circ of 60,000.

Breaking Guitar's Neck

Livejournalist Radpantz says that Guitar World magazine shouldn't publish features about people who can't play the guitar. Seems fair.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Growth Sport

Is XXL magazine the fastest-growing magazine in America? Get thee to a newsstand and see what all the fuss is about.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Life, Back from the Dead

While I'm still not sure whether the new version of Life magazine -- or its new distribution method -- will have a positive impact on publishing, it is interesting to gauge how far formerly hot titles can fall. Though the magazine's storied history and attention to photography are impressive, I can't but wonder what happened.

Luckily, people have captured some of Life's past life. Life in 1962 offers text, images, ads from -- and commentary on -- a single issue. The Smithsonian Institution Press has even published a book about the magazine.

CIO-verfilled Niche?

TechTarget is launching a new magazine targeting CIOs next spring. CIO Decisions, with a controlled circulation of 60,000, will contend with CIO and CIO Insight. The sneaky Petes even registered the domain name How many magazines does a chief information officer need?

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Quiz Nous

What magazine are you?

What magazine am I?

I am Popular Science: The only thing more exciting then the present is the future. I am always the first to hear about whats going on in the realms of human achievement.
What magazine am I?

Quotes of Note

"Lots of work goes into Cosmo Girl. Hundreds of talented and bright people put their efforts into getting just the right model and just the right tone of teenage girl happiness. Sure it may not be on the same level as people working in toxic fume filled mines, but they're at least doing something." -- Suburb Squirrel

Nervy, Pervy XXVIII

How embarrassing. You're writing an article about men who like to wear diapers, and you out one of your sources. LiveJournalist ActiveSilence used to write about pornography while he was in college, and a recent blog entry indicates that it's always a good idea to verify first names as well as last when cold-calling a potential interviewee.

The Source of Our Discontent

Michiban may not like Vice, but it appears that Eminem may dislike The Source even more. The hip-hop periodical has been fined for publishing Eminem lyrics -- twice -- challenged for distributing unreleased Eminem recordings in which he makes derogatory remarks about African Americans, and come under fire for other copyright- and ethics-related issues involving the white rapper.

The Daily News reports that Eminem slags The Source in no fewer than three songs on his new record, Encore. One of those songs? "Big Weenie."

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Heavy Mental

A LiveJournalist by the handle of GothicChinaDoll is thrilled silly that Metal Edge magazine published a snapshot they sent in in the January issue. Personally, I think Metal Maniacs would be more of a coup, but congratulations, nonetheless. Horns up!

What other magazines publish photographs of readers? I know Mad publishes photos of readers mugging with celebrities. What other titles do this?

Cover Story IX

Erik D, proprietor of They're Coming for You Barbara! recently stumbled across the Lost Comics of Olduvai, a treasure trove of cheesy, vintage comic book covers. Reproducing nine covers, including one from a comic titled Amish Armada, Erik offers some snarky commentary about the highlights -- and lowlights -- of the comics publishing industry. It appears that Erik's drawing on a larger online archive -- he plans to comment on additional titles in the future. Does anyone know the original source for these?

Sustainable Ability

I may have initially thought that Jen was a real magazine, but the Sustainable Style Foundation earns extra credit for designing a Web magazine true to print design principles.

The result, Sass magazine, sports a cover complete with cover lines and a faux UPC, and the Web TOC mirrors that of a print pub, offering cover stories, departments, and other features. While the page design stays true to that of paper-based periodicals, the on-site navigation isn't as easy as that offered by services such as Zinio, NewsStand, and Texterity. Regardless, it's nice to see more hybrid approaches!

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Clothes Whore XI

Wait. There's a magazine for teenage Mormon girls? Jen focuses on modest clothes, modest fashion, clean music, and clean entertainment for young women of the Latter Day Saint persuasion -- or LDS, as they proudly proclaim sitewide. The site offers a downloadable letter you can use to persuade clothing stores to sell more modest wares. Wasn't YM's tagline once "young and modern"? Jen targets the young and modest, but not so modest that they shy from calling themselves "LDS girlies."

[Thanks, Feministing!]

Update: It's not a print magazine proper, but one of those "online magazines." Apologies for the confusion. Now, someone go launch a print mag for LDS girlies!

Magazine Me LIV

Not only do cable channels have their own magazines now -- case in point, Sci Fi magazine, which is equal parts program guide and general interest sf mag -- but television shows are following suit.

LAist reports that subscribers to an OC fan site will also receive a subscription to a print magazine that debuts Monday. Word is that the mag will "revolve around the Orange County lifestyle and its residents." I wonder if existing regional titles like Coast magazine feel threatened.

Oh, wait. Coast covers the real SoCal. OC Insider will cover the lifestyle portrayed on TV.

Event-O-Dex CII

Reason magazine is holding a launch party to celebrate the publication of Choice: The Best of Reason on Friday, Nov. 12, in New York City. From 7-9 p.m. at the Greenwich Village Barnes & Noble, Joe Garden -- a staff writer for The Onion -- will moderate a panel discussion.

Panelists include Nick Gillespie, editor-in-chief of Reason; Brian Doherty, senior editor of Reason and author of This Is Burning Man; and Joe Bob Briggs, contributor to Choice and author of Profoundly Disturbing: Shocking Movies That Changed History!

Feedback Where You Find It

Dead Spaces' Michiban really doesn't like Vice magazine. Personally, I've never found it interesting enough to care about, much less get irritated by. But you've just got to love periodical:pimple comparisons.

Newspaper Chase XII

In his blog Small Initiatives, Jay Small comments on Design magazine's list of influential moments in news design. Granted, given that the mag is the house organ for the Society for News Design, it makes sense that much of the list concentrates on newspapers, but wherefore the news magazines? Or newspaper's Sunday magazines? Small's commentary is solid: The real issue is a limiting definition of news, regardless of whether they include online design.

Conference Floored

Subscribers of Folio magazine, which is undergoing somewhat of a confusing evolution as it incorporates M10 Leadership Review -- which means nothing to me -- recently received a free exhibit hall pass to the upcoming Folio Show in New York City.

The exhibit hall is open for a total of 13 and a half hours over the course of the Nov. 15-17 event.

Launch Pad

The New York Post reports that Conde Nast's new shopping mag Domino is tumbling head over heels to an April launch -- rather than a planned fall launch. Aiming for 10 issues a year, Domino will start with a rate base of 400,000 -- and a team of 20-plus editors headed by Deborah Needleman is hard at work on the first issue. By year end, an editorial team of 30 is expected.

At the Masthead

National Geographic has named its new editor-in-chief, and it's... a former photographer for the magazine.

Chris Johns will succeed William Allen after a 10-year run at the magazine's top editorial position. Having worked with the yellow-bordered mainstay for almost 20 years, Johns made the move from photographer to associate editor just three years ago.

"I don't regret a day of the field time," he says. Um, no you didn't. 'Cause then you hung out with lions and won awards, and now you sit at a desk, eh? Congratulations! (Seriously, congratulations; it just seems so much more exciting to be a photographer for the mag.)

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Credit Line Item

How long has U.S. News & World Report been running photograph and illustration credit lines that specify whether something was done "for USN&WR"? The Nov. 8 edition is riddled with credit lines such as "Jeffrey MacMillan for USN&WR," as well as "Ashley Cooper -- PicImpact/Corbis."

Now, it's common practice to credit stock images appropriately, but isn't it assumed that -- unless otherwise indicated -- something was shot expressly for the title in question? Some photos are even credited as "contact for USN&WR." How is that different than a normal photograph? Anyone know?

Magalog Role

Last month, Avon launched its first men's-only catalog: M. Debuting two new lines of products aimed at the emerging metrosexual -- including exfoliating cleansers and antiwrinkle eye creams -- the catalog sports an initial press run of 7 million. Now, that's a launch!

Making a Statement of Ownership

It's that time of year again, when magazines are required to publish their statement of ownership.

I love these little indicators of a magazine's health and vitality -- not only can you track top-level staff changes year to year, but you can gauge whether a magazine is on the wax or wane. Unfortunately, I don't consistently collect the statements -- or keep them all in one place -- so the comparative aspect is diminished. Regardless, even as standalones, they're worth looking for... and reading.

Take that of Yankee magazine. Published in the November issue, the statement indicates that an issue's average press run is 564,369. 474,685 people subscribe. 25,388 copies are sold on the newsstand. I don't know why, but I find numbers like that fascinating.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Among the Literati LVIII

Shades of Dotson Rader's byline, I was surprised to see a poem by Katha Pollitt in the Sept. 27 edition of the New Yorker. Is this the same Katha Pollitt who writes for the Nation? It is! Who knew? Not me.

Cover Story VIII

Time magazine offers an online gallery of its covers dating back to 1923. The week I was born features a post-modern paper sculpture of George Schultz. More than 4,000 covers are available -- and for sale.

Elector Set

Vote. Seriously.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Pieces, Particles XVIII

The following stories spotted recently in print publications might be worth a look. Heads and decks, only. Heads and decks.

Bad Table Manners, but Fancy Names to Quote, by Jason Zinoman, New York Times, Oct. 23, 2004
A Williamsburg troupe that dares eat chicken in public.

Brewing up Goodness, Back in the Day, by Tiffany Elliott, Greenpoint Star, Oct. 7, 2004

The Civic CD, by Rob Walker, New York Times Magazine, Oct. 24, 2004
The goal of this music is not to launch careers but to end one career in particular.

Columbia J-School Students Terrify Locals, by Brian Montopoli, New York Observer, Oct. 11, 2004
The New York World

Con Flicks, by Kathryn Schulz, New York Times Magazine, Oct. 24, 2004
The rise of the right-wing film festival.

Dave Sim on Comics vs. Trades, by John Jackson Miller, Comics Buyer's Guide, August 2004

Death to "Death of the Pamphlet", by John Jackson Miller, Comics Buyer's Guide, August 2004
Welcome to the 21st Century, where it's in vogue to preach the end of the comic book format.

The Flatlands: Certainly on the Level, by Tiffany Elliott, Greenpoint Star, Sept. 30, 2004

F. Scott's Queens: A Guided Tour, by Reed Jackson, Greenpoint Star, Oct. 14, 2004

If the Angel's Broke, Don't Fix It, by Nik Kovac, Greenpoint Star, Sept. 23, 2004

In Character, a Quick Exit Is Required, by Howard Kaplan, New York Times, Oct. 23, 2004
When miming a statue, impressions matter

Johnny Ramone, The Economist, Sept. 25, 2004
Johnny Ramone (John Cummings), a punk rocker, died on September 15th, aged 55

Love on the Rocks, by Bill Arsenault, Northwestern, Summer 2004
What better way to say "I love you" than to put it in permanent paint?

Loving Manifestations, by Mara Bovsun, New York Daily News, Oct. 24, 2004
The trials of Henry Ward Beecher

Miss Subways, Subversive and Sublime, by Melanie Bush, New York Times, Oct. 24, 2004
For three decades, New York women had an icon that was ethnic, real and even covertly feminist. Now, she is set to reign again.

The News That's Fit to Print, by John Leo, U.S. News & World Report, Oct. 25, 2004

The New York Subway 1904-2004, by Joe McKendry, New York Times, Oct. 23, 2004

Pushing Paper, by Nancy Franklin, New Yorker, Oct. 25, 2004
Ricky Gervais does overtime at "The Office."

Quitting the Paint Factory, by Mark Slouka, Harper's, November 2004
On the virtues of idleness

Radio Decades, by Meredith Daniels, Newsday, Oct. 23, 2004
It's a youth-oriented business, but these DJs have staying power

Shop Write, by Amanda Hesser, New York Times Magazine, Oct. 24, 2004
American eating habits, one grocery list at a time.

The Tabloid King's Dilemma, by Devin Leonard, Fortune, Nov. 1, 2004
Can David Pecker, publisher of the National Enquirer and Star, turn his company into a glossy-magazine Bigfoot?

Taking a Train Back in Time (No Need for a MetroCard), by Alan Feuer, New York Times, Oct. 24, 2004

Taming the Monster, by Michael Doran, Comics Buyer's Guide, August 2004
Learning to live with new comics speculation could help the hobby Blogging off Daily Can Make You Blind, by Tom Scocca, New York Observer, Sept. 20, 2004
Wolcott, Sullivan, Teachout: Save It for the Memoirs! At least Kaus reports

Walking America, by Andrew Curry, Smithsonian, November 2004
Twenty-six-year-old Aaron Huey took his dog, his camera and an open mind on a journey from California to New York. Along the way he learned a lot about his country -- and himself.

Weird Love, by Nick Paumgarten, New Yorker, Oct. 25, 2004
In the Vault

What Lies Beneath, by Dan Hofstadter, Smithsonian, November 2004
A vast world of streets and piazzas, aqueducts and catacombs -- rich in history and full of surprises -- is drawing more and more visitors to the subterranean reaches of Naples, Italy

Soundtrack: The Ditty Bops

Friday, October 22, 2004

NetWork X

For the last two years -- plus -- PayPal has dinged me $5 a month for my silver-level Ryze membership. While I regularly respond to people reaching out to me through the service, I rarely if ever visit the site on my own accord -- and I've yet to go to a Ryze event. So I decided today that Ryze isn't worth $60/year to me. That's money better spent. Just now, I've cancelled my silver membership and eagerly await to see what my Ryze experience is like now that I'm not paying to use the service.

Left and Leaving

Is the Dotson Rader who writes celebrity profiles for Parade the same Dotson Rader who was involved in the Students for a Democratic Society -- and who wrote I Ain't Marchin' Anymore?

Googling him, it appears that he's done some hefty writing in the last decade-plus, but his most recent bylines, which include a profile of Colin Farrell and Adrien Brody seem like softballs -- and a far cry from Rader's past work. Any insight, Media Dieticians?

Pieces, Particles XVII

The following stories spotted recently in print publications might be worth a look. Heads and decks, only. Heads and decks.

Cable Vision, by Aaron Dalton, Time Out New York, Sept. 16, 2004
See how the news comes together -- and maybe get a glimpse of Paula Zahn! -- in CNN's new interactive tour

The Dismal Science Bites Back, The Economist, Oct. 9, 2004
George Bush Comes out worst in our poll of academic economists

The End of a Dead End, at Least for Pedestrians, by Christopher Gray, New York Times, Oct. 17, 2004
Streetscapes: 71st Street, west of West End Avenue

Fishing for Clever Toons, by Vicky Hallett, U.S. News & World Report, Oct. 18, 2004

The Long Tail, by Chris Anderson, Wired, October 2004
Forget squeezing millions from a few megahits at the top of the charts. The future of entertainment is in the millions of niche markets at the shallow end of the bitstream.

Marketing Target, by David Hinckley, New York Daily News, Oct. 17, 2004
Teens and their zines

A New Tombstone Sets the Record Straight for Doc Holliday, New York Times, Oct. 17, 2004

One Grid to Rule Them All, The Economist, Oct. 9, 2004
Efforts are under way to create a computer the size of the world

Out with the Long, The Economist, Oct. 9, 2004
"Short words are best," said Winston Churchill, "and old words when short are the best of all"

Peering into the Past, by Joshua F. Moore, Down East, November 2004
Looking for a pitcture of a train wreck in Oakfield in 1917? Your best bet is the Maine Memory Network, an astounding new "virtual" museum.

Phase One, New York, Oct. 18, 2004
Yes, we are renovating this magazine.

A Rail Buffs' Day to Make the Wheels Turn, by Charles Delafuente, New York Times, Oct. 17, 2004
Open house provides inside view of Metro-North repair shop

The Technology of Feminine Allure, by Nancy Shute, U.S. News & World Report, Oct. 18, 2004
Science & Society

What a Street! (But Do You Ever Remember Being There?), by Sam Knight, New York Times, Oct. 17, 2004
Houston has long been eclipsed by its hipper sisters, SoHo and NoHo. As change looms, now is the time to savor its singular charms.

Event-O-Dex CI

Friday and Saturday, Oct. 22-23: Joel Forrester, of the Microscopic Septet and People Like Us, performs with a trio at Palmira in Brooklyn Heights, 8 p.m. Go the first night, and if you like it, go back for more the second.

Sunday, Oct. 24: Misha Mengelberg and the ICP Orchestra take the stage at Tonic in New York with Frank Gratkowski, joined by John Lindberg and Gerry Hemingway. Two sets: 8 and 10 p.m.

Tuesday, Oct. 26: Clare Burson performs with Rachel Davis at Fez under the Time Cafe, New York, 7 p.m. Stick around for her set, and then scoot over to...

Tuesday, Oct. 26: Pindeldyboz puts the fun in fundraising with the Pindeldyboz Literary Cabaret, a night of literature, music, parlor games, and swanky fun with host, comedian Seth Herzog; the literary stylings of Darin Strauss, Michelle Orange, Greg Sanders, and Dalia Azim; and the musical stylings of the Jim Daves. Junno's, 64 Downing St., New York, 8 p.m. And if you're lucky, you'll still be able to cross the East River and get to...

Tuesday, Oct. 26: The Hungry March Band -- think Jumbo, only in Brooklyn, and perhaps less hodgepodge -- struts its stuff at Galapagos in Williamsburg, 10 p.m.

Wednesday, Oct. 27: McSweeney's founder Dave Eggers and his younger brother Christopher will present Giraffes? Giraffes! And Your Disgusting Head, a series of satirical children's books, as Dr. and Mr. Haggis-on-Whey. Coliseum Books, New York, 6 p.m. If that's not highbrow enough for you, leave in a huff and check out...

Wednesday, Oct. 27: Granta celebrates its silver anniversary (that's 25 years) with editor Ian Jack and founding editor Bill Buford, who will host a series of readings, as well as a discussion of the magazine's history. Symphony Space, New York, 6:30 p.m. Regardless of which you choose, you can still catch the...

Wednesday, Oct. 27: Total lunar eclipse, to begin around 9:14 p.m.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Music to My Ears LXI

Back in the early '90s, while in college, one of the cutest girls in the world introduced me to the music of David Garza. Based in Austin, Texas, and an occasional contributor to the Austin Chronicle, Garza continues to release interesting, important music. In fact, he just came out with a multiple-CD project featuring something like 70 songs.

At the time, his appeal for me sat largely in the lap of his band Twang Twang Shock-a-Boom. I cannot find the cassette that cute girl in the world made for me that captured some of his early songs, and I couldn't even remember the name of his first band until this afternoon when I came across Bright Orange Folder, a small mp3 archive of his previously cassette-only songs.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, she's got it." Now all I need to do is track down mp3's of Bouffant Jellyfish and the rest of the Texas Funk alumni. It'll be like hearing the Smoking Popes on the 7-inch for the first time.

Trivia: I also just learned that Billy from Dillinger Four was in Scooby Don't. "Trailer Park Queen," anyone?

Magazine Me LIII

A friend and former coworker of mine, Anni Layne Rodgers, is working to launch a new general interest magazine for young men.

Created by and for teen guys, Krank reflects the fierce independence and raw energy of its readers with words and images that live loud.

What I've seen of the trial issue is impressive -- and extremely well designed -- and if you're interested in helping fund the title, you can download a pre-launch media kit.

I've long wondered why publishers haven't succeeded with a general interest magazine for young men. I don't think it's an impossible goal, and I think Krank might have what it takes.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

d20 Dicey Proposition

I love the fact that stuff like this exists. Dungeon Majesty is a Hollywood-based low-budget TV show in which four young women play Dungeons & Dragons. The names on their character sheets include such gems as Devastina and Shakuntala, and the overlaid action scenes in which the cast clowns around in full D&D regalia are great fun. In December, they'll be shooting at GenCon.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Murray Hill Moment II

I stepped outside for a moment this afternoon and was momentarily taken aback from a sight on the sidewalk just outside the Lexington Avenue entrance. At first, I thought I saw several dozen eggs littering the ground. As I neared, they looked more like plums and potatoes. Perhaps apricots. In the end, I realized that they were Dunkin' Donuts Munchkins. Someone had dropped an entire box of Dunkin' Munchkins. And just left them for the doormen, the birds, and the businessmen.

Greenpoint of View

While my neighborhood in Brooklyn, Greenpoint, tends to be relatively quiet and family-oriented, several area events have gotten some media attention of late.

I live across the street from McGolrick Park, where, earlier this month, a toddler fell into a hole or storm drain. He was quickly rescued by his grandmother.

In mid-September, the park became the scene of a more dangerous event. The New York Press reported -- by way of of a Johnny Dwyer column -- that a gang of teenagers beat a homeless Polish man to death. The column, while disturbing, captures my neighborhood well. The people hanging out in the park. The kids who loiter along its edges, smoking and drinking. The older men who also linger on the edge -- they've been lingering longer, their skin cracked brown by the sun and wind, and their binges beginning early in the day. Perhaps the youth are threatened by the vision of what they may become.

And in Williamsburg, one neighborhood over, a woman was raped last week. The attack occurred early in the morning near N. 8th Street and Driggs, a corner I walk past almost daily. Two men in their 20s were arrested this weekend. Oddly enough, they live close to the scene of the crime.

Other than the nature of the events noted above, another thing interests me. Many of the newspapers reporting on the goings on refer to the park on which I live as McGoldrick Park. Signs clearly indicate that it's McGolrick Park, and such a simple error makes me wonder what else the reporters are getting wrong, not to mention what else they -- and I -- are missing.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Music to My Ears LX

If you like music, and you like magazines, you'll love my new iMix, Music to Read Magazines By.

Update: Oh, and here's one called Newspaper Chase, which is about, yep, newspapers.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Magazine Me LII

Looks like Seed magazine, which posits that science is culture, may soon -- or not so soon -- face some competition. Not only is there the journal Acumen, which seems to have gone AWOL online since Jason Pontin jumped to the Technology Review, there's the forthcoming Galileo.

Charter subscribers to the new title from the Economist Group, of which I am one, recently received a letter indicating the launch may be even more forthcoming than previously believed. "We received an excellent response to our subscription offer, confirming the appeal of the magazine," writes biz-dev director Matthew Batstone. "However, launching a magazine is a major project and there still a few more steps we must take before Galileo becomes a reality."

Can we say, "Delay"?

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

The Restaurant I Ate at Last Night XXXI

Sunday night, Deb and I went to Sal Anthony's at 55 Irving Place. A wonderfully old-school Italian family restaurant, the upstairs section attracted a bevy of patrons, some of whom seemed straight out of a John Waters movie. We had the dramatically faded Hollywood beauty with Jackie O glasses and a bouffant. We had a wicked eyeliner, aging goth wearing a silver cross. We had a little girl wearing a blue sequined dress -- that matched that of the doll in the high chair next to her. And we had the cutest of elderly couples directly within our line of sight. The food was wonderful. Simple breads with butter. Melon and prosciutto and mozzarella with tomato and basil for appetizers. And two fusilli entrees. Go for the prix fixe menu if you get there in time. Even dessert -- spumoni ice cream pour moi, and an enormous cheesecake for Deb -- is worth tasting.

And last night, I explored the Meatpacking District for the first time since I moved here, braving the rain to meet some folks at Pastis for coffee, drinks, and dinner. Eminently trendy, the section also has quite a bit of history, and I'd like to return when the downpour isn't a torrent. Conversation and camaraderie was good with the likes of Jason Calacanis, Tom of the Media Drop, and CJ Hughes, a contributor to the New York Times. I had the omelette with fine herbs and french fries -- arguably the best omelette I've ever had.

Nervy, Pervy XXVII

Porn for Progress is offering a DVD entitled "Porn for Kerry" featuring portrayals of Jenna Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Al Franken, and Lyndie England. Self-described as an "association of adult filmmakers and political activists," the group pledges to donate its proceeds to Kerry-Edwards campaign activity in swing states. Equal parts "political satire" and hardcore porn, the DVD goes for $20. Now that's serving your country!

Monday, September 27, 2004

Rock Shows of Note LXXXVI

Despite not wearing a belt yesterday, I stopped by Trash in Greenpoint on my way home in order to catch a somewhat-early set by the power-pop wunderkinds in the Unlovables. Featuring five people, including Mikey Erg from the Trylons -- who had their first practice yesterday, by the by -- the band plays a high-energy style of melodic power pop (some may say punk), singing scads of songs about boys, girls, love, crushes, and other fun topics.

Additionally, I met several other interesting people, including Bill Florio, a columnist for Maximumrocknroll, and the guy behind Whoa Oh Records, which has released several amazing records. I'm glad I went out... and fun was had by all.

Clothes Whore X

Yesterday, I felt off all day. From the moment I woke up, through Trylons practice, during dinner with Deb, and when I went to bed, I felt at least one beat behind the rest of the world. And you know what I think caused it? I didn't wear my belt yesterday.

Every day, I wear a belt. It's black. It's simple. It's actually getting quite old. But yesterday, I left the house sans belt. And I didn't realize it until about 8:30 p.m. What's up with that?

Today, I wear the belt. And I feel much better.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Wet Nap

I've been dog sitting for my friend Deb this weekend. In the past, such house- and Harpo-sitting stints have been uneventful, but this weekend has been anything but. You see, yesterday morning, after a full night of heavy, heavy rain -- perhaps Ivan-driven -- I woke up to Harpo whining. Now, other times I've sat for Harpo, he's awoken me by whining -- usually on weekends, when I tend to sleep in, rather than on weekdays, when I wake earlier than usual to walk him before heading to work. Usually, it's because he has to go to the bathroom.

Yesterday, things were different. Yesterday morning, I woke to him whining -- thinking he had to go out -- only to realize that it was only 9 a.m. The bathroom break wasn't totally pressing yet. I could hit the proverbial snooze and take him out soon enough. So I rolled over to check on him, pet him if he was within reach -- as if to comfort or assure him -- and go back to bed for a few more minutes. Thing was, I opened my eyes to see him high stepping nervously. Second thing was, I saw what looked like silverfish scurrying across the floor. "Is the heavy rain driving insects inside?" I wondered. Then, Thing No. 3. Those weren't insects (I once got a B+ in biology for calling insects bugs; silverfish are insects); those were dog hairs and other items floating atop standing -- nay, flowing -- water.

Waking more, fueled by adrenalin, I focused my eyes intently enough to realize that the bottom floor of Deb's place -- a basement, for all practical purposes -- was awash in liquid. And steeling for a step off the bed, I soon realized further that it was covered by about an inch and a half -- two inches -- of actively flowing water. Walking gingerly around the bed, I saw water surging from underneath an unused, locked door that led to the basement hallway. My first thought was Harpo: If he was freaking out about the water, he probably needed his morning bathroom walk sooner than later. My second thought was about Deb's stuff -- she's moving to Brooklyn in a week-plus, so much of what she owns is packed in boxes stacked on the basement floor.

Walk over -- we took a speedy roundabout to Stuyvesant Park, our usual stomping grounds -- I returned to find that the water had all but receded. And within minutes, whatever was left was largely gone. Debating whether to call Deb on the West Coast before a godly hour -- and whether to disturb her with this when she was away for a wedding -- I assessed the damage. The floor would have to be cleaned. Harpo's dog bed would have to be replaced. A handful of boxes had been standing in water for who knows how long. And a throw rug was soaked.

Early yesterday afternoon, then -- just about noon on the West Coast -- I dialed Deb. She called her super, whose wife stopped by mere minutes later, to her credit. "The same thing happened to the woman next door," she said. "When no one called, I thought everything was OK." Turns out, a basement drain had slowed given the hard, prolonged rain. It stopped up and overflowed. A woman in the next building experienced the same flooding Deb did. When the rain let up, the drain had opened, and the water had receded. Nothing more could be done. We should call the management company Monday morning. I was nervous about the forthcoming evening's predicted rain, but despite a late-afternoon drizzle, nothing came forth.

Not quite sure why, I took pictures. Pictures of the dog hair gathered by draining water in the northwest corner of the basement. Pictures of the grit and debris that had washed in from the basement hallway door beneath the night table and among the trailing UBS cables. Pictures of Deb's water-damaged moving boxes. I moved the unaffected boxes onto Deb's bed and the stairs. I shifted the guitar, amplifier, and other electronics gear that had been on the floor up the stairs near the first floor. I placed the wet boxes at the foot of the basement stairs to get them off the floor -- and to drain.

And after talking to Deb later that night, I began to unpack those boxes. So the several boxes of records wouldn't be packed so tightly together. So the Archie and Bloom County comic books and albums wouldn't be sandwiched in such tight quarters. And so the photo albums that almost captured a life could fan -- and air -- out.

Deb has yet to come home. She should get here in two hours. And while I'm confident that not too much was lost, I'm dismayed. Had my records been similarly damaged; had my books, regardless of how replaceable, been sodden; I'm sure I'd have been devastated. Floored.

Thank the gods I live on the fourth floor. The water will have to rise high, high before it can reach me. And mine.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Television-Impaired XIX

It wasn't until the debut of Stargate: Atlantis that I started watching the original television series Stargate SG-1 in earnest, but I have become convinced that Stargate is the best TV show ever.

Can I say? Best TV show ever.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Theater Sports

Last weekend, I saw two plays in 48 hours. Friday night, Deb and I went to a 10:30 p.m. staging of John Del Signore's "The Pet Goat Convention" as part of the New York International Fringe Festival. We had some trouble finding the Access Theater, which is located at 380 Broadway -- off-off-Broadway theater... on Broadway! -- because the information we received from our friend in the play indicated that it was at 340 Broadway. It was not.

Similarly, the play began quite a bit late because one of the key cast members -- Larry Weeks -- was also not at that address. When he eventually arrived, he came in with a flourish and started struggling with some chords and a synthesizer on stage. One of the production crew members struggled to persuade him to not worry about them -- and to get backstage so the play could begin. Deb and I were struggling ourselves trying to gauge whether Weeks was intoxicated. Later, we learned that he had been -- and moreso.

Regardless, the play was anything but intoxicating. A mish-mash of assorted progressive -- and occasionally transgressive -- political and cultural ideas and themes, the play fell short because the script -- and staging -- only hinted at the true importance and insight of each concept. Set in a post-apocalyptic future in which people burrow below ground to live and lock their hired help in storage sheds while they're not working, two former friends hash out their differences while a psychedelic holdover (Weeks' character) encourages the down-on-his-luck musician to carpe diem -- and dame, too, in the end.

In this future world, the entertainment media (pop music in particular) seems to control most public discourse, and one of the cleaning team -- the hired help I mentioned above -- played by the extremely young Sophie or Emma Whitfield (twin sisters!), was a pop music icon in her "home country." All of that could have added up to something interesting. I kept hoping that the performance would crescendo to the complete telling of the pet goat convention story -- which is never told in whole form -- but instead, Weeks' neo-Iron John and Jeff Auer's failed musician exchange weaved in and out of Philip Burke's Jay Mohr-like posturing and Neil Butterfield's inscrutable foreign cleaning man.

Of the cast, only Doug Halsey -- our friend, for full disclosure -- surprised with a well-played emotional outburst near the end of the play. Now, the end of the play. While I didn't get the crescendo and loose thread-tying conclusion I was hoping for, I did get a confusing musical performance in which Halsey played guitar and pop diva Sophie or Emma Whitfield sang a frightful number that kept repeating the phrase "American made" or "American maid" while the slur-voiced Weeks banged on a red pail and looked up Emilie Elizabeth Miller's skirt.

Sunday afternoon, then, took my friend Parul and I to the Kirk Theater off Broadway for a free media staging of "John F. Kerry: He's No JFK," a play scheduled to coincide with the Republican National Convention -- and a project that's attracted some attention. Backed by one of Gov. Pataki's top campaign aides, Patrick Donohue, the play -- which portrays Hillary Clinton as a power-hungry lesbian, Kerry as a bungler who faked the injuries that earned him his Purple Hearts and can't get over an obsession with JFK, and Janet Reno as a feisty go-go dancer -- drew the governor's ire and led to Donohue's distancing from the production.

Juicy RNC off-Broadway stuff, no? The question then becomes, does the play deserve such controversy and attention? Yes and no. Yes, because, as spokeswoman Amanda Scarpone has said, the Democrats don't have the lock on humor. It's a noble attempt to upstage Air America-style comedy from folks such as Janeane Garofalo and Al Franken, and I appreciated a conservative play portraying Bush as a cowboy-howdy buffoon (as easy and harmless a joke as it is to make). Yet no, because the play never quite locks onto its parodic stride, either. The performance felt like a series of Saturday Night Live impressions strung together with a rambling roundup of Kerry's foibles.

That said, there were many bright moments and funny bits. Whitney Kirk -- crowned Miss Arkansas in 2003! -- did a fair job as Hillary and Jane Fonda. The scene in which Richard Seth Rose's Howard Stern continuously bleeps out a dismayed Diane Sawyer was quite nice. And Marchand Odette's Al Sharpton impression was absolutely priceless -- a perfect portrayal of a sweat-drenched Baptist preacher and a highlight of the show (which redeemed her extremely irritating bits as Robin Quivers and Downtown Julie Brown). Kevin Kean Murphy neared carrying off Kerry's cliff-like visage and mannerisms. Of the cast, though, I think Rose has the widest range -- including a perhaps unnecessary, manic, last-minute addition of a James McGreevey scene -- and the most actor-like presence.

The play offered a nice balance to our visit to the Tank, which housed the Progressive Tourist Bureau, just before the performance. And it was funny in places. But is it worth $56 funny? Not really. The laughs weren't large enough. The ideas weren't interesting enough. And the criticism wasn't serious enough. I didn't learn anything new, and the barbs -- while there -- weren't overly sharp. I'd save my $56 to tip a pint or more for Kerry.

Event-O-Dex C

Saturday, Sept. 4: The Liars, Shoplifting, Lightning Bolt, the Panthers, and the Sightings rock the lot at 140 Kent Ave. between Grand and North First streets in Brooklyn, 2 p.m.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Murray Hill Moment

Murray Hill is the Manhattan neighborhood bounded by 42nd Street, Fifth Avenue, and 27th Street. The building in which I work is located just inside Murray Hill, at 42nd and Lexington, and I've adopted it as my "work neighborhood" because I'm not the biggest fan of Midtown, which reportedly ranges from 23rd Street to 59th Street or perhaps 40th to 59th. Greedy, greedy Midtown!

This morning, on my way to work, I was stopped at the corner of 42nd and Lex. Police officers had lined both sides of Lexington with barricades in preparation for a presidential motorcade, and they weren't letting anyone cross either street. Pointing at the Socony Mobil building, I asked, "How can I get to that building... right there?" One relatively firm but nice police office told me that I could backtrack to Park Avenue to head further downtown -- but that it'd still be about 20 minutes before they'd let anyone cross Lexington. Another police officer -- not as nice, this one -- lashed out at a frustrated woman, spitting, "Why didn't you take a week's vacation like everyone else?"

Harf. Look around you, Officer Cranky; plenty of people didn't take a vacation. In any event, I stood waiting to cross the street for 20 minutes and think I may have seen the president in one of the cars. I've been wondering how far the RNC brouhaha would spill over from Madison Square Garden.

Mixed Drinks and Mingling VIII

Last night, after bidding a fond adieu to an intern at Margarita Murphy's -- which two female friends said "smelled like feet" -- I headed to Table 50 at Broadway and Bleecker to meet up with Parul for the Topic Magazine issue release party. To celebrate the publication of the Food issue, which features a disturbing pictorial entitled "Frog Meets Mouse," they enlisted one Crazy Legs Conti to eat a sculpture of Dick Cheney made with mashed potatoes.

I was a little underdressed in my Eric Conveys an Emotion T-shirt, but I had a great time. Parul introduced me to her friends Nan Mooney, author of My Racing Heart, and jeweler Stephen Kris I availed myself of a couple of $6 Heinekens and explored the red-lit, mirrored hallway to the bathrooms. I even accidentally made my way into the women's room: "That's strange; the M is hanging upside down."

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

On the Vote Boat!

I read Daily Candy almost every day, and almost every day I get mad at myself. It's not written for me, I never act on anything they run, and I'm not sure I'd like the people who do, but there we go. Until today's item:

If you've never voted, you're missing out on one of life's great pleasures.

No, not the satisfaction of performing your civic duty. Or the sense of solidarity with your fellow voters. Or the continuity with our nation's roots in freedom, democracy, and self-determination.

We're talking about the smug feeling of self-congratulatory superiority you get from wearing that little "I voted" sticker on your lapel all day.

Hey, Mr. Goateed Coffeehouse Loiterer: I voted. You know it, Mr. Angry Supervisor at Work: I voted. Read 'em and weep, Ms. Waitress Taking My Lunch Order: I voted. Say it, don't spray it, Mr. Toll-Booth Guy: I voted.

Yeah, check me out, honey: I voted.

Because if you don't, you can't lord it over people.

And that's just plain un-American.

Snark aside, I haven't laughed so loudly at the InterWeb since, well, since Suck. Remember Suck? Mmm, Suck. Little surprise Joey Anuff landed at VH-1.

Monday, August 30, 2004

The Free-Range Comic Book Project XL

This is an installment of Media Diet's Free-Range Comic Book Project:

Secret Weapons #17 (Valiant, February 1995). Writer: Jesse Berdinka. Artist: Anthony Castrillo. Location: On a bench seat on the Brooklyn-bound platform of the 3rd Avenue L station.

For more information on this project, please refer to this Media Diet entry.

Among the Literati LVII

Kevin Spenst emailed me today to say that a collection of short stories I edited -- Dan Buck's This Day's Wait -- inspired him to write short, short stories, as well. And Kevin does.

Since last October, Kevin's written a short story a day, publishing them on his Web site. He's also had work featured on CBC Radio 3 and in Scene 360.

Cool stuff. Thanks for touching base, Kevin!

Label Maker

Two record labels have been making me smile, and they're the kind of record labels that encourage you to trust them enough that any record on the imprints will be worth your time. Major labels sure don't have that going for them.

The first is Reiko Kondo's LA-based Eenie Meenie Records, home label to Seksu Roba, DJ Me DJ You, and the High Water Marks. Consider starting with the Cookbook comp. to get a sense of the label's taste.

And then there's Retard Disco, also based in LA, interestingly enough. Comprising "Nintendo punk" and related bands such as Hawnay Troof, 14 Year Old Girls, and Gravy Train, the label has a hyperactive sense of humor and a sexy edge. Scads of MP3's and videos abound, and you can even hear a song some skater kid recorded on their answering machine in 1999 -- and see 14 Year Old Girls live on Tech TV!

Eenie Meenie and Retard Disco, if I could subscribe to your next five releases, sight unseen and sound unheard, I would.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Make Your Own Media III

Jessica Abel recently published an online guide entitled "Making Minicomics." The handy how to outlines how to use a proportion wheel, mocking up the mini, photocopying the final product, collating, and folding. Now that it looks like Jordan Crane's old how-to guide is no longer available, this might be the next best thing.

Dirty Laundry Hamptons

The New York Post's Hamptons Diary column, which I admittedly never read, caught my eye this morning with an item about an established Hamptons magazine snarking about some recent up and comers.

The September issue of Hamptons Cottages and Gardens, slated to go on sale Sept. 1, includes a 24-page insert dubbed Hamptonseen that drubs its competitors as "the magazine that celebrates self-importance."

Curious how much of a hand HC&G managing editor -- and LES blogger -- Lockhart Steele had in the project.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Blogging About Blogging LXXVII

File under: Opportunity lost? Or, say what?

Blogger's new-ish Next Blog and Blog This features are particularly intriguing if the Blogger toolbar persists when folks follow links via blogs (especially if they use Blogger).

Let's say you read Media Diet. Let's say you use Blogger. Let's say you click on a link within Media Diet.

Now... let's say that, if you use Blogger -- and Blogger's toolbar persists -- when you access links external to Media Diet or any other Blogger-fueled blog., you still, well, have the toolbar. If you use Blogger.

The Blogger toolbar, including Next Blog and Blog This, etc., remain. Even the site-specific search could remain. Google could probably do that. I'm just guessing.

Let's further say that Blog This pulls not just the URL in question, but the referring link -- a la a "[via] or some such suffix. Let's further further say that you can do that at the entry level, not just at the blog level.

Does that require frame-based referrals a la Perhaps. Honestly, I have the proverbial "no idea." But perhaps there's a more elegant solution. And perhaps, just perhaps, it's hella useful.

I think it might be. If the Blogger toolbar persisted as I scarfed the Interweb via my own blog -- or browser, regardless, now that I think about this -- what might be possible?

That brings up another question, which folks might already have answered. What if Mozilla, Explorer, Netscape, Opera built smart Blog This options into their... toolbars. For Blogger, Moveable Type, and other tools?

I bet plugins aleady exist. Say it's so. Or, say it's impossible.

Blogging About Blogging LXXVI

I've also recently added the Blogger tool bar, which enables you to explore other recently updated Blogger- and Blogspot-fueled blogs. Just click on Next Blog.

Or don't.

I don't mean to be elitist, but if the most recently updated Blogger- and Blogspot-fueled blogs are any indication of the blogosphere, we're in... interesting shape. Let's just consider the last 10 that I just clicked through, which dip into... yesterday.

Perhaps the quality -- and currency -- will improve as the users of this feature increase, but until then, I'm left with the musings of Elvis on the use of 8-bit color in video games. Which is worth reading, especially given that I can't use the Java-driven Blog This feature on my handheld (which will only last until Friday).

Work in progress, I suppose.

Blogging About Blogging LXXV

Just so you know, I just switched to Blogger's commenting tool, replacing the commenting tool I used previously. Perhaps unjustly.

Why? Because I can now receive email notices when Media Dieticians have something to say on the Interweb. Why? To perhaps help combat wily comment spam. Why? You persist. Erm, because it seems I've now lost all of the old comments made using the YAPPS -- I think that's what it was called -- tool. For that I am eternally -- and externally, it seems -- sorry. [The tool was called YACCS, actually.]

We'll just have to see if it works better.

The Free-Range Comic Book Project XXXIX

This is an installment of Media Diet's Free-Range Comic Book Project:

Superman #115 (DC, September 1996). Writer: Dan Jurgens. Artist: Ron Frenz. Location: On a bench on the Court House Square elevated platform on the 7 line.

For more information on this project, please refer to this Media Diet entry.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Music to My Ears LIX

I've also uploaded an iMix entitled Stephen King: Carrie to the iTunes Music Store. The playlist features songs mentioned and quoted in the novel -- not the movie.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Hiptop Nation VII

I emailed T-Mobile this afternoon requesting that they cancel service to my Sidekick. At the end of the month -- or whenever they actually get around to canceling service -- I will no longer be a member of Hiptop Nation.

Technofetishism L

I love the Sony earphones I use for my iPod. They seem to be a generation before the current w.ear line, and much to my dismay, the black foam coverings to the ear pieces just split on one side. I've had these a couple of years, so it's no surprise, but help me out, Media Dieticians: Where can one obtain replacement parts like this? Hook me up.

Music to My Ears LVIII

I just uploaded a new iMix to iTunes Music Store. Stephen King: The Shining is a collection of songs cited and quoted -- or mentioned by name and in passing -- in the novel. It is not a soundtrack to the movie, and I recommend that you listen to the mix while reading the book.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Books Worth a Look XXI

It's been eight months since my last roundup of book reviews, which I stopped doing because of the time commitment. That said, it's still worthwhile commenting on noteworthy media-related books, and last night, I read a novel that inspired me to break my book review silence.

Jeffrey Frank's The Columnist is a quick-witted fictional memoir of a political writer in Washington, DC. Shades of Neal Pollack, Frank's first-person account is by turns egotistical and fantastic, humble and workaday, as the main character, Brandon Sladder, swims with the sharks in beltway politics, navigating his way up the opinion-leader chain of command by way of his writing -- and his romantic dalliances and social maneuverings.

Throughout, Sladder remains blissfully ignorant of the impact his drive has on his family life, and in the end, his success is largely professional, if that. For, as his ego grows, his common sense shrinks, and he ends up committing to those in his life that he can't really depend on. A funny, inside media read that touches on the role of news writers and columnists, how magazines and newspapers work, and the broader influence such media wield.

Magazine Me LI

In the Daily News today, Paul Colford reports that The Nation's circulation has grown 71% during the Bush presidency. Since the Iraq war began, about 24,000 people have subscribed. While it is largely believed that political magazines thrive when the opposition is in power, conservative mag the Weekly Standard rose 30%. Who knew? Initially, I wondered whether the circ. boom had anything to do with Christopher Hitchens' departure.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Music to My Eyes XXVII

Proof positive that hearing music on the TV can lead to record sales. American Movie Classics has been using a snippet of Sam Phillips' song "All Night" in adverts for its Movies at 8. The sheer infectiousness of the song -- it's been stuck in my head for weeks -- finally inspired me to snag her album "A Boot and a Shoe" today. It's not as neat as hearing Papas Fritas in a Dentyne Ice commercial, but it's pretty darn cool. Musicians, license your music to the TV! TV producers, listen to more new music! You can help each other.

Friday, July 30, 2004

'Tis the Season to Be... AWOL XVIII

Tomorrow, I head home for a week's vacation in northern Wisconsin. That means that Media Diet may be quiet until I get back to New York. That doesn't mean that Media Diet is dead (long live Media Diet!). It just means that it's resting. Worst case scenario: Media Diet will be back up and running Aug. 9 or so.

From the Reading Pile XXX

A Murder of Corvids
While living in Merritt, British Columbia, Hatton published a number of zines, including one on community access television and another called the Corvid Revue. This collection compiles stories taken from that zine, and while none really conveys the sense of the local evoked in his introduction, a handful are worth noting. "Copycats" is a brief slipstream short about civilized felines. "Everyone Else Is Wearing Theirs" could be an allegory about homelessness but still reels in slipstream savviness. The nonfiction "A Brooklyn Tour" recounts a visit to New York's best borough, giving me several walking tour ideas. The post-911 "Corvus on War" piece, the only item not previously published, recommends several anti-war media must-sees, -reads, and -hears. And "Treed" returns to the slipstream. Were Hatton to focus on his new fabulist fiction, he could be a voice to follow! Dave Hatton, P.O. Box 2318, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523. [$2 US, $3 Elsewhere, trade, free to prisoners 64S :20]

Off-Line #28 (Spring 2004)
Published since 1999, this zine edited by what seems to be a politically active couple, is an intelligent personal zine that goes beyond diary entries. Opening with an article about an anti-war protest held on Memorial Day, the zine establishes its personality: caring, involved, and smart. The way Romano and his compatriots in the Westchester Activist Youth defused the situations in which people challenged their stance is impressive. Other pieces address conversations overheard on the bus, a Food Not Bombs action, violence at an Iron Maiden concert, a review of two 2003 talks by Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn, vegan recipes, and letters from readers. After reading this zine, I like and want to meet Romano and Cocco -- and not every zine inspires that sense of connection. Vincent Romano and Claire Cocco, 35 Barker Ave. #4G, White Plains, NY 10604. [Free, trade, free to prisoners 64S :07]

Team Evil #1 (March 2004)
This extremely well-designed and -produced zine is published by an Australina freelance writer and public relations professional who uses a slew of pseudonyms -- Weezy, Milk Is Chillin', and Mr. Sniffles -- to "not lose my job." Opening with a consideration of violence in hip hop, the zine includes interviews with the Neptunes and Prince Paul, a quick conversation with an old-school secretary using a typewriter, pieces on video games and super villains, an appreciation of driving while high, and a look at the Hairdressing Society State Titles. Were Napieralski not so enamored by not-quite-Hunter Thompson drug-fueled writing -- and were the stories longer reported pieces like those he must do as a freelancer -- given his interests, experiences, and access, this zine could be awesome. As it is, it's acceptable. I look forward to future issues. Mikolaj Napieralski, 12 Heathfield St., Eight Mile Plains 4113 Brisbane, Queensland Australia. [$3 32S :07]

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

From the Reading Pile XXIX

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From the Reading Pile XXVIII

Alice in New York
This is the first installment of a planned graphic novel. If the first proper book edition is intended to be 100 pages long, it will be a breezy read indeed. Beginning in 1989, this first issue covers Henry's arrival in the city, meeting his bed and breakfast hostess Carol, and initial fortuitous welcome to the Big Apple. I'm not overly impressed by Henry's page design or artwork -- think a sloppy Matt Madden, perhaps -- but this issue does feature several memorable moments. The opening vignette on an overheard conversation about love -- and fortune -- found, p. 9's sidewalk still lifes, p. 21's lovely lust, and p. 24's call to "be smart despite yourself" all show promise. One to follow, perhaps. Henry Chamberlain, 1545 NW 53rd St. #1, Seattle, WA 98107. [28S :03]

Barry Pago: Crime Scene Photographer
Holy cow. And how. As always, Jamie's delightfully dark depictions deliver a surprisingly efficient emotional effect. Blending Greg Cook's anthropomorphic cartoonishness with Hans Rickheit's ghastly gaze, this mini -- complete with characteristic label-affixed covers -- really packs a punch. A cyborganic penguin working as a new-school Weegee cannot contain his cannibalistic urges while his son -- a frustrated photographer himself -- also goes too far. The final six complete pages are absolutely priceless, contributing a catastrophic closure while pulling the heartstrings and providing a playfully pathetic look at the father-son dynamic. A real call to pause and wonder. Jamie Tanner [36XS :01]

A color photocopied or laser-printed edition, this is a DIY catalog and program for Russell's MFA thesis exhibit at the Art Sinner College of Design in Pasadena. Combining photographs of tomb archways, distressed walls, cloudscapes, facades, and found objects with appear to be three sections of found text or original writing, the digest doesn't do much to share Russell's skil or validate his overall vision. More meaningful if you experienced the exhibit, I'm sure. Fingers crossed he got his master's! Christopher Russell, 745 Maltman Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90026. [12S :01]

Celso #2 (Birth of Celso: Inevitable)
What a trip of a comic! This legal-sized issue is an immensely and intensely dense piece of work that, while not entirely clear or cohesive, remains intriguing. Combining the fantasy world building of Sam Kieth with the psychedelic yet subtle silliness of Andy Ristaino, Celso drills through several layers of surreality to explore the environs of a humongous warrior-like creature who seems to spawn cities in his steps, a paranoid old man who is intimidated by a cat and afraid of a perceived demon on his roof, and a baby with a mallet who shares a moment with what might be an homage to Tony Millionaire's Drinky Crow. Despite the edition's oblique surrealism and the over-long text interlude featuring the old man, Celso's artwork is delightfully detailed, bringing to mind the efforts of Geoff Darrow, albeit entirely different. Confusing, yet convincing, it's worthy of consideration. Celso, 9 Bench Mark Dr., Boulder, CO 80303. [$2 US, or trade 22L :03]

Sidewalk Bump
Full disclosure: I contributed to this comic anthology celebrating the personal importance, impact, and appreciation of skateboarding. While the pieces by Dan Moynihan, the editor, ably address the wonder, joy, and celebration skating can bring -- in his segments on pavement, architecture, the strength of wooden decks, the art of drawing lines while skating, and cats -- the other contributors also add a lot to the consideration of conquering concrete. Leslie Kleinberg offers two looks at her memories of not skating when she could have. John Isaacson provides a six-page piece on skating in a rustic setting. Dave Kiersh submitted three comic-text items on how skating can affect relationships. And John Porcellino amazes with a couple of wonderful items himself. Less aggressive and more amiable than the old Thrasher Comics, this anthology is a heartfelt hallowing of what some see as a humble hobby. Dan Moynihan, 29 Farquhar St. #2, Roslindale, MA 02131. [$5 US 52S :04]

Friday, July 23, 2004

Music to My Ears LVII

I just learned how to upload playlists to iTunes Music Store, and if you're curious -- and have iTunes -- you can check out some of the mixes I've been listening to lately.

Pretty slick, that iTunes.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Blogging About Blogging LXXIV

Ben and Mena Trott announced the winners of Moveable Type's Developer's Contest tonight at BlogOn, which I'm confblogging for FC Now. Here's a partial transcript of their awards presentation:

Mena Trott: Blogging has come really far, and this event is proof. If there's proof that you can make a business out of blogging, the proof is standing up here. We're incredibly excited. One of the main things we want to talk about is developers; they're the bread and butter. There are people in this room who've been Moveable Type developers since Day One. We want to make money, but we also want our developers and the community to make money. Tonight, we're going to announce an award -- six awards, really.

Anil Dash: I've moved from being the third Trott to being their first born, so I'm really lucky. There are people all around the world who don't work for Six Apart but make their living on Moveable Type and TypePad, and now legally. There are things we didn't Moveable Type could do, that blogs could do.

Mena Trott: Our developer program is just in its infancy, but we've had 1,000 people sign up for it. This is the inaugural event for that network. We have three third prize winners.

Ben Trott: The first winner has been a developer for a long time now, and he's done a number of plug ins. He did a plug in called MultiBlog. Moveable Type allows you to separate your content into different weblogs, but this plug in lets you make a page that pulls in content from a number of blogs. The winner is David Raynes. The next winner is someone whose weblog we've long admired. His plug in is a text formatting system. Not having to know any HTML, you can still express a lot of ideas and syntax structures. This award goes to John Gruber from Markdown. The next award is for a plug in that closes a pretty critical feedback loop in weblogs. It's important that your community keep up to date on your weblog, comments, and such. This plug in allows you to keep track of changes in your comment threads, and the award goes to Chad Everett for his Notifier plug in.

Mena Trott: We have two second prizes.

Ben Trott: The first winner was pretty amazing to us. It's something we never would have imagined. I'm not sure of everything that this thing can do. It's a visualization engine that lets you create visuals for your posts. It was made by Andrew Sutherland of KoalaRainbow. The next one is a replacement for the search engine in Moveable Type that allows you to use indexing and things that are more powerful. This goes to Timothy Appnel for X-Search Plus.

Mena Trott: Our final first prize is one prize.

Ben Trott: The winner is someone who, like Tim, has been around in the community for a long time. He was really great when we were having the troubles with the 3.0 licensing. He really understood what we were trying to do, and he helped get that message out. The plug in is MT-Blacklist. Jay Allen won this. He's really integrated it into the new version of Moveable Type. And he's rewritten the plug in completely to take advantage of all of the new developer features.

Mena Trott: These winners will be integrated into a plug in pack. And if you didn't win, we're sorry. All of the entries were really great.

Big Brother Is Watching XXI

This past weekend, I took a brief trip to Staten Island on the Staten Island Ferry. According to the New York Post, they've installed hidden security cameras on the ferry boats -- and in the terminals. Maybe it's to keep tabs on the slow-going construction work or the pigeons on the Manhattan-side terminal. Keep your eyes open if you scoot over to check out the forthcoming National Lighthouse Museum.

Mapblogging VI

93 Photo Street is an intriguing piece of shareware that will help you organize your digital photographs geographically -- by connecting images to specific locations. Tie this into a social network service -- and add moblogging -- and it could be hella cool.

Thanks, Joe!

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Music to My Eyes XXVI

Through Tuesday: Planet Earth: Dreams, a video feature directed by D.J. Mendel and featuring Cynthia Hopkins and the music of Gloria Deluxe, screens at Two Boots Pioneer Theater in Manhattan.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Monday, July 12, 2004

Music to My Ears LVI

Michael Mayham works the coat room at North Six in Williamsburgh. He's also really nice, and he makes music. Listen to it.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

The Movie I Watched Last Night LXXXIX

You know you're the kind of member Netflix makes money off of when you still haven't watched DVD's they sent you in January and March. This past week I cleaned house -- and cleaned up my queue. I can't keep sitting on discs like that!

Monday: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Without the syrupy sentimentality of Miracle on 34th Street, which I've always likened to this for some reason, Frank Capra's 1939 film is a wonderful comedy, as well as a period, positively patriotic piece. James Stewart's lead is a humbly heroic American icon, the epitome of the Boy Scouts, Grit magazine, and Tom Sawyer. His blend of country bumpkin naivete and honest respect for what the United States' political system was founded on is a welcome reminder of what America could -- and should -- be. Likewise, Jean Arthur's embittered Hill career girl acts as a fun foil, irritating slightly in the boozy interlude with Thomas Mitchell, but delighting as her love of Jefferson Smith develops. In the end, several elements help this film really resonate: the toothsome grin of Smith's idealist boy supporters, his samizdat sidestep of mainstream media with the four-page paper Boy Stuff, the scenes on the Senate floor, and the reminder of what politics can be. That said, the end of the movie is a train wreck and comes to a close much too quickly. Pouvez-vous dire, denouement?

Tuesday: Now, Voyager
What, was I on some kind of a Claude Rains kick or something? Who knew? This 1942 drama was also a fun watch. Basically a Cinderella story, it tells the tale of Bette Davis' sob sister, who, thanks to her therapist, a cruise ship, and a married man, blossoms into the flower we knew she could be. Everyone always talks about Bette Davis' eyes. Have you ever looked at her teeth? Holy cow. Paul Henreid's romantic but unavailable Jerry Durrance balances Davis' character well, but it is Janis Wilson's Tina, Durrance's ugly duckling -- and uncredited! -- daughter, that caps the characters. Largely a story of individuality and redemption, the movie's pairing of Davis and Wilson adds a nice bit of closure -- but also responsibility, respect, and recognition for those who help us.

Wednesday: Cinemania
The pick of the week. There's nothing like a movie that makes you want to watch more movies. Cinemania is a 2002 documentary about five cinephiliacs, avid moviegoers and film buffs whose celluloid obsessions dominate their lives. Three of the five are unemployed and on disability, and the other two have designed their working and personal lives around their intense need to see the cinema. Eric Chadbourne (Any relation to Eugene?) is perhaps the most socially adept of the five -- and the most in depth in his analysis of and insight on what movies really mean. At times apologetic and rationalizing, his description of the importance of films to society and culture occasionally seems self-serving, if not enabling. Then there's Roberta Hill, who is similarly serious in her analysis, but pleasantly unaware of her carriage -- or impact on those around her. In one of the film's most telling scenes, former ticket taker Tina Bonacore details a night on which Hill attacked her for ripping her ticket. In the end, we learn that Hill had saved every ticket from every movie she's ever seen -- and that Bonacore's lack of understanding ended that run. Eventually, Hill was banned from MOMA for her behavior, even trying to sneak in once in disguise, and the segment -- a sad sequence of painful portrayal -- indicates just how overwhelming obsessions can be. The other people, for the most part, come across as sad and nerdy, but their loose-knit friendships and camaderie -- as represented in the sections during which Eric visits Harvey Schwartz and Jack Angstreich at home, as well as in the film's final scene, in which the five attend a screening of their own documentary -- brought a warmth to my heart. Brilliant soundtrack featuring Stereo Total, as well. Kudos.